CHENNAI: Recently, ace pistol shooter Manu Bhaker got a new electronic target installed at the makeshift shooting range at her home in Haryana.
Along with a few Olympic hopefuls, she is also taking part in the online competitions that are being organised to keep their spirits high amidst lockdown. The shooters are also attending online classes every day to stay in touch with the game.
However, there are a couple of Indian marksmen who have not held their weapons for more than two months. Stuck in their respective villages, 50m rifle 3 positions shooters — Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar and Swapnil Kusale — have now urged National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) through their coaches to help them retrieve their weapons from their training bases.
Tomar is stranded at his village Ratanpur, 70km from Khargone (Madhya Pradesh). He left his rifle and other equipment at Madhya Pradesh State Shooting Academy in Bhopal. Kusale’s case is different.
Unlike Tomar, he can’t even attend the online classes due to network issues at his village Kambalwadi, 50km from Kolhapur (Maharashtra). He left his equipment at his flat in Pune and reached Kolhapur on March 21 for brother Suraj’s knee surgery before the nationwide lockdown was announced. Suraj is a kabaddi player.
Coincidentally, Tomar and Kusale are competing for a place in the national squad for Tokyo Olympics. Tomar earned the country a quota by winning bronze at Asian Shooting Championships in Doha last year. Kusale is placed second in the event after Sanjeev Rajput, following Olympic trials in February. The top two shooters may get a chance to represent the country. Rajput himself has won a quota in the event in the past.
“I have mailed NRAI requesting it to help these shooters retrieve their weapons. For Swapnil, we had spoken to Pune police commissioner. He assured us help, but got busy with the pandemic,” India’s rifle coach Deepali Deshpande told this daily.
“The situation with Swapnil is a bit tricky. He cannot enter his village if he goes to Pune. Anyone returning from Pune or Mumbai to the place is being asked by the village authorities to undergo institutional quarantine for 14 days.”
“That’s why we need help from local authorities to deal with the situation. At the moment, he is focussing on physical fitness. But now it’s time to hold the weapon and do some dry shooting.”Deshpande has also asked Tusale to apply for an online pass to travel.
“I cannot attend online classes because of network problems. It’s good that Olympics got postponed by a year. But I need to train rigourously once I get back to the shooting range. The priority at the moment is to get my equipment back,” Kusale said.
Tomar also echoed similar sentiments. “I am in touch with my coach. But it’s difficult to reach Bhopal as the city is witnessing a high number of cases. My coach is in constant touch with the association. We are also seeking help from local authorities. I hope to get my equipment soon.”